Special Events

GALA AWARD NOMINEES

Once again, the Special Events Magazine Gala Awards judges have combed through hundreds of entries to find the best events in 35 categories covering all aspects of the event industry, from creative food design to show-stopping entertainment. On the following pages, we are pleased to present this year's outstanding nominees. The winners will be announced on Jan. 8 at the Gala Awards and Celebration at The Special Event 2005 in Miami. Watch for the list of the Gala Award winners in our February issue.

BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL

City of Garland, Garland, Texas

The City of Garland's annual “Star-Spangled Fourth Celebration,” held over the Fourth of July holiday, was a salute to old-fashioned fun. This year's highlights, which were visited by more than 157,000 people over the five-day festival, included a sand-sculpting exhibit that used 100 tons of sand, a children's activity area, performances by musical acts including Roberta Flack and John Kay & Steppenwolf, and nightly fireworks displays.

JHE Production Group, Concord, N.C.

More than 115,000 spectators, including plane-loving actor John Travolta, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, and U.S. President George W. Bush, attended the weeklong “First Flight Centennial Celebration” to honor the 100-year anniversary of the aviation achievements of Orville and Wilbur Wright. The crowd was treated to daily air shows, on-site exhibits on aviation history and a final-day reenactment of the Wright brothers' historic 12-second flight.

The Lundquist Co., Sacramento, Calif.

To promote and celebrate the programs of First 5 Sacramento, an agency focused on the health of children under age five, The Lundquist Co. designed a festival in Sacramento City Park attended by more than 3,300 people. A conga line of local mascots led attendees from the food and activities of Fairy Tale Town to the adjoining Resource Expo, which featured health-education booths and programs filled with kid-friendly information.

BEST INVITATION

Arlene Segal Designs, North Miami Beach, Fla.

In just 10 days, Arlene Segal Designs created an invitation for the grand opening of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., that reflected both the Seminole Native American tribe and Hard Rock's corporate image. A sleeve of black velvet and leopard-print faux fur featured a silver-hued brushed-metal band engraved with the hotel/casino's logo. Inside, a brushed-metal invitation was engraved with leopard-print detailing and event information.

BK Design, Boston

For the surprise 40th birthday party of best-selling author Dan Brown, BK Design created an invitation that reflected the 1940s-inspired event theme. The file-box invitation — filled with file cards containing clues about the essential who, what, when and where of the event, written in the style of mystery novels from the era — was sent in a box filled with authentic 1940s newspaper and included a lipstick-stained handkerchief that served as the official entry pass to the party.

Hannah Handmade Cards, Evanston, Ill.

For an “Evening with Trump International” networking event that brought together catering managers and event planners for a presentation by the Trump Organization, Hannah Handmade Cards designed an invitation inspired by Chicago's much-anticipated Trump International Hotel & Tower. The invitation's sleek gray faux leather and punched aluminum elements — enclosed in a faux leather envelope wrapped with a gray grosgrain ribbon — reflected the architecture and colors of the planned skyscraper.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla./Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa.

The flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades were the inspiration for the tables at the “Evening of Everglades Elegance” incentive event for VIASYS Healthcare. Rectangular banquet tables were covered with custom-designed snakeskin-print linen and topped with centerpieces made from native plant species such as cymbidium orchids, Seminole grass and Spanish moss. At both ends of each rectangular table, 72-inch round tables served as extensions of the centerpieces and held displays of 10-foot-tall iron trees, air plants, bromeliads and ferns.

Party Arts, St. Louis

For “Nations on the Trail,” a private dinner for 100 guests held to commemorate the bicentennial of the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition, Party Arts designed unique tabletops based on 15 of the Native American tribes encountered by the explorers. Tablecloths were created by painting muslin to resemble buckskin hide, then decorating the fabric with colors and symbols important to the represented tribes. Centerpieces made from indigenous materials, such as vegetables, pottery and plants, completed the look.

BEST DINING TABLE DESIGN

Timot McGonagle, Nashville, Tenn.

For a client-appreciation dinner with a contemporary supper-club atmosphere, Timot McGonagle set acrylic-topped tables dressed in white linen with clear chargers and centerpieces of white hydrangeas. During each course of the meal, colored LED lights hidden in the base of the tables — used in conjunction with an intelligent lighting program — caused the tables and walls of the room to change color simultaneously, bathing the space in yellow, then turquoise, then red.

BEST FOOD PRESENTATION

A Joy Wallace Catering Production & Design Team, Miami

For a surprise birthday party for 140 guests, A Joy Wallace Catering designed a menu to complement the event's cirque-inspired entertainment. Dishes included “Shrimp on a Trapeze” — whole shrimp dangling from a chive stalk resting between shrimp, avocado and cilantro terrines, which was served following a trapeze act; and “Balancing Act” — shallot-rubbed filet of beef topped with a skewer holding roasted vegetables, which followed a glass-and-china balancing performance.

Culinary Capers Catering, Vancouver, British Columbia

An ice rink was the setting of an elaborate five-course dinner created for 350 guests by the team at Culinary Capers Catering, who timed each course to coordinate with the cirque-style entertainment. The menu of locally sourced ingredients included toast cups filled with wild mushroom and thyme ragout, grilled vegetable Napoleon topped with a cucumber star and served on a star-shaped ice plate, and chocolate truffles presented in a martini glass set on a base of dry ice.

Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Fla.

The “Evening of Everglades Elegance” incentive event for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. The five-course menu included starters of mangrove snapper escabeche and Mayport white shrimp ceviche served in a custom-made display case, organic greens topped with hearts of palm stuffed with truffle mousse served on raised cake stands, and a lavender and honey parfait with Key lime shortbread surrounded by sugar monarch butterflies.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

A Joy Wallace Catering Production & Design Team, Miami/Design Management, Miami

The 47th annual Vizcayan Ball, which raises money for the preservation and restoration of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, put on the Ritz with the theme “A Black and White Soiree.” Following tray-passed hors d'oeuvre, guests were served a “walking course” of “sips of soup” before being seated for an elegant dinner served at tables dressed in black-and-white linen. Cabaret entertainment, as well as an 8-foot-tall vodka luge shaped like a Broadway dancer, stole the show.

BEST OFF-PREMISE CATERED EVENT

Feys & Hobbs Catered Arts, Victoria, British Columbia

Over a four-day period, 1,800 Japanese guests experienced a whimsical fairy tale garden party held at Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle, including “Alice in Wonderland” themed croquet along with juggling and magic shows. To accommodate the venue's size limitations, each day Feys & Hobbs served 350 to 500 guests a lunch of Dungeness crab and garden herb salad; Alberta beef tenderloin with local asparagus and scalloped potatoes; and bittersweet chocolate tart with vanilla-bean creme fraiche and local berries.

Thomas Caterers of Distinction, Indianapolis

With just five weeks' lead time, Thomas Caterers planned the menu for an outdoor wedding reception at the couple's home for 1,200 guests. Passed hors d'oeuvre included grilled chicken medallions with leeks and red peppers, and salmon rillettes with flying fish roe; six elaborate entree stations served chicken and vegetable paella, honey and peanut linguine, and an array of salads prepared on-site. With so many stations, food lines remained short even with the long guest list.

BEST CATERED EVENT PRODUCED BY A HOTEL BANQUET DEPARTMENT

Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Fla.

The “Evening of Everglades Elegance” incentive event for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. The hotel ballroom was transformed into a lush, mysterious jungle environment, complete with dancers dressed as creatures such as brightly colored butterflies and frogs. Guests were served a tightly scripted and choreographed five-course menu of local ingredients that featured banquet staff as part of the event entertainment.

Orlando World Center Marriott, Orlando, Fla.

“Club Kaleidoscope” was the theme for an event designed to show off the host hotel's capabilities to an association of 550 insurance conference planners. The colorful Latin-influenced event featured a family-style dinner that included corn empanadas with jumbo shrimp served over green papaya salad and a dessert of spiced pineapple soup with coconut rice pudding. A DJ spinning tunes in the ballroom-turned-South-Beach-nightclub, which was decorated with vibrant 16-foot-tall murals and dramatic, swirling neon lighting, kept guests moving.

Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Appleton, Wis.

The team at the Radisson Paper Valley designed an elaborate setting for a black-tie fund-raiser following a performance of “The Phantom of the Opera” at the new Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Decor components included walls and catwalks draped in vintage fabric, which created the appearance of an old opera house; a huge buffet of fresh seafood, cheese and desserts that incorporated five water fountains into the design; and a dramatic appearance by the Phantom, who handed a single rose to one guest, then disappeared.

BEST FUND-RAISING EVENT

Napa Valley Wine Auction, St. Helena, Calif.

More than 2,000 wine lovers attended the “Isn't it Romantic — A Toast to Napa” themed Napa Valley Wine Auction, which was staffed by 1,000 local volunteers. Guests enjoyed an opening event at Domaine Chandon winery, food and wine tastings, live auctions and the elegant Bubble Ball, which was influenced by the musical era of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. The four-day event raised $5.3 million for more than two-dozen health-, youth- and housing-related nonprofit organizations in Napa County, Calif.

EventScape Inc., Barrington, Ill.

The glamour and sophistication of 1940s cinema were the inspiration for the 17th annual Alzheimer's Association's Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala, which paid tribute to the movie “Gilda.” More than 800 guests experienced an art nouveau decor scheme of black, turquoise and white, a four-course dinner, a performance by dancing Gilda look-alikes and the big-band sound of the 32-piece City Lights Orchestra. A live auction and raffle drawing helped raise $1.2 million for Alzheimer's research.

MarCon, Chicago

For “baba:luna,” Chicago's 16th annual Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS Gala, the Spanish-style Aragon Ballroom set the stage for a Latin-fusion themed event. Room decor gave the venue a “South Beach” nightclub vibe, while a Latin dance performance and music from Carlos Santiago and the Rumba Orchestra kept the 800 guests on their feet. Guests bidding on auction items such as a glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly and a weeklong trip to St. Barth's helped contribute more than $340,000 to the cause.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

JAM Productions, Chicago

The grand opening gala of Chicago's Millennium Park showcased the new venue to more than 2,500 guests, including major donors. Highlights included dinner from Wolfgang Puck Catering — overseen by Puck himself — and a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the new Frank Gehry-designed music pavilion, which included a grand finale fireworks and lighting display synchronized to the music. The evening's events raised more than $2 million for the park's conservancy.

EventScape Inc., Barrington, Ill.

The glamour and sophistication of 1940s cinema were the inspiration for the 17th annual Alzheimer's Association's Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala, which paid tribute to the movie “Gilda.” More than 800 guests experienced an art nouveau decor scheme of black, turquoise and white, a four-course dinner, a performance by dancing Gilda look-alikes and the big-band sound of the 32-piece City Lights Orchestra. A live auction and raffle drawing helped raise $1.2 million for Alzheimer's research.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

MarCon, Chicago

For “baba:luna,” Chicago's 16th annual Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS Gala, the Spanish-style Aragon Ballroom set the stage for a Latin-fusion themed event. Room decor gave the venue a “South Beach” nightclub vibe, while a Latin dance performance and music from Carlos Santiago and the Rumba Orchestra kept the 800 guests on their feet. Auction items such as a glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly and a weeklong trip to St. Barth's helped raise more than $340,000 for the cause.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST

The Precious Moment Taiwan Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan

Classic Chinese elements updated with contemporary details decorated a 600-guest wedding reception at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. The reception area featured pillars wrapped in red and gold murals of Chinese calligraphy and three bamboo walls that re-created the entrance to a Chinese garden. Inside the ballroom, guests were seated for a 10-course banquet of traditional Chinese cuisine; overhead, six floral chandeliers made from 1,500 strings of glass beads and more than 10,000 pink dendrobium orchids were suspended above the tables.

Events of Distinction, San Francisco

East met West for a wedding that melded the couple's San Francisco hometown with Asian influences to honor their Chinese and Japanese heritages. Following the wedding ceremony — which was set to the music of “Madame Butterfly” — guests to the reception hall for a contemporary Asian-fusion dinner served at tables dressed in rich fall colors and named for esteemed Asian virtues such as “Tranquility,” “Benevolence” and “Honor.”

Yifat Oren & Associates, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

“A Paris” was the theme for a celebrity wedding that re-created a Parisian living room in a southern California backyard. The design included an eclectic mix of French furniture, rugs and tea rose centerpieces, which were set up under antique chandeliers that dangled from the branches of surrounding trees. Guests sipped vintage-recipe drinks such as mint lemonade and rosewater martinis and feasted on French classics including crepes, imported cheese and croquembouche.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

Coronado Weddings, Coronado, Calif./Pacific Event Productions, San Diego

A 60-square-foot wooden deck was erected on the sand for a modern beach wedding held at the Hotel Del Coronado in southern California. The bride and groom were married in a “ceremony in the round” under a canopy adorned with a custom-designed seashell chandelier; following the ceremony, seashore decor continued in the hotel's ballroom through the use of candles, bamboo and seashell elements, and intelligent lighting, which simulated the movement and colors of the ocean and sky.

BEST WEDDING: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

Details Event Coordinators, St. Louis

The couple's country estate provided the backdrop for a French country-inspired wedding ceremony, which took place on the porch of a 19th-century cabin overlooking the Missouri River. The 260 guests sat on handmade quilts to watch the exchange of vows, then ate dinner at tables set with antique French quilt overlays and centerpieces of wildflowers, loaves of bread and raffia-covered jugs. Performances by musical acts The Four Tops and the Fabulous Motown Revue capped off the evening's events.

Weddings Unique Inc.

A clear-span tent became a romantic “midnight garden” for a January wedding reception held at a riverside estate in Florida. Tables decorated in ivory and silver linen featured lush centerpieces of blue and cream blossoms; overhead, garden trellises covered in dendrobium orchids and votive candleholders were suspended from the tent ceiling. An adjacent lounge area furnished with intimate sitting areas gave guests a chic and comfortable place to sip cocktails and relax.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY INCENTIVE EVENT

Harith Productions Ltd., Oreland, Pa./Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Fla.

The three-day “Evening of Everglades Elegance” incentive program for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. Guests were treated to a sunset cocktail reception on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and explored the waterways on a 35-foot catamaran cruise. The final-night event featured a five-course menu of local ingredients, served in a ballroom transformed into a lush jungle environment, complete with dancers dressed as creatures such as butterflies and frogs.

Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.

Extraordinary Events and Designs by Sean produced six events over five days for an incentive program in Puerto Rico for top producers from a financial institution. In addition to two general sessions and an awards gala, the main event was a “Caribbean Carnivale” celebration, which was divided into four uniquely decorated areas: “Jamaica,” “Bahamas,” “Trinidad” and “Aruba.” Guests dined on each island's native cuisine, danced to calypso and reggae bands, and watched a carnival parade of vibrantly costumed dancers.

Showtime Events, Raleigh, N.C.

To accommodate large group sizes and employee demographics, Showtime Events produced identical back-to-back three-day incentive programs in Sanibel Island, Fla., for two groups from a financial institution. The first group of 500 guests enjoyed a “casino night” welcome reception, dinner at a top-rated local restaurant and a final-night “Studio 54” themed disco party. On the fourth day of the program, the first group departed and the second group arrived for the same round of events.

BEST MULTIPLE-DAY EVENT PROGRAM FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION

EventWorks, Los Angeles

This year's Starwood Hotels and Resort Partner Summit, held in Scottsdale, Ariz., showcased the capabilities of Starwood properties and the hottest trends in event design to top meeting planners. During the course of the weekend, guests experienced cutting-edge ice-themed decor and an ice-carving show at the “Chilling with Starwood” welcome reception, “Breakfast with the Beatles” with Beatles cover band Twist and Shout, and a final-night disco party featuring ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again.

Total Event Resources, Inverness, Ill.

Total Event Resources invited the attendees of client International Truck and Engine Corp.'s annual national parts and service dealer expo to get in the game for a series of extreme-sports themed events. The “eXtreme” theme was incorporated into the opening general session's “International Extreme Sales Network” — an ESPN-style broadcast with sports announcers commenting on live half-pipe performances by BMX bikers and rollerbladers — and a final-night event of “eXtreme” fun at Universal Studios Orlando.

Hartmann Studios, Richmond, Calif.

For client Home Depot's 25th Anniversary Celebration and 2004 Manager's Meeting, Hartmann Studios produced a series of company-branded events that culminated in a three-day party in Orlando, Fla., attended by 6,000 guests. The celebration paid tribute to the global culture of Home Depot and featured the company's signature orange color scheme. Highlights included an appearance by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, CEO Bob Nardelli driving the Home Depot race car onstage at the business session, and a private performance by rock legends Aerosmith.

BEST EVENT STAGED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Atlantis Creative Group, Toronto

With just three weeks of lead time, Atlantis Creative Group produced eight events in seven cities over 12 days for the Canadian launch of Volkswagen's new Phaeton car model. A self-guided, upscale “art gallery” concept exposed the target group of attendees to the car's luxury features via custom-designed product displays, interactive multimedia kiosks and product animations projected directly onto venue walls. An event team of five set up and tore down the exhibit in each city — sometimes flying overnight for back-to-back events.

Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

A three-city U.S. road show called “Hong Kong — Live It, Love It” promoted travel and tourism to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The New York press event showed a video starring Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan on the Reuters Jumbotron in Times Square; in San Francisco's Union Square, the public was presented with a Hong Kong festival scene including native cuisine and entertainment; and in Miami, an event at an international travel show targeted the travel industry.

BEST EVENT STAGED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Impressive Events, Montclair, N.J.

Impressive Events produced simultaneous pre-screening events of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in six cities across the United States for AOL Media Networks — all with just 10 days' lead time. The events — held at Loews movie theaters and designed to give sales staff the chance to network with important clients — re-created famous elements from the movie including a “Diagon Alley” entrance and the “Sirius-ly Black Buffet,” “Quidditch Field” and “Azkaban Cell Block Bar” food stations, which served “Harry Potter” themed treats.

Feastivities Catered Events, Berwyn, Pa.

Feastivities Catered Events launched its floral division at a fashion fund-raising luncheon with the creation of eye-catching centerpieces designed from Styrofoam wig forms topped with flower-covered hats. Each wig form was covered in natural materials such as rice paper, lentils or peas, then crowned with a chapeau of springtime blossoms including daisies and snap-dragons. The heads were “planted” in a box of vibrant wheat grass on the center of the dining tables.

BEST FLORAL DESIGN

The Precious Moment Taiwan Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan

The color red and both round and square shapes permeated the floral designs of a 600-guest wedding at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. In the reception area, three bamboo walls with round window cutouts re-created the entrance to a Chinese garden. Inside the ballroom, red rose petals surrounded centerpieces of square glass vases filled with candles and wheat grass on round dining tables; overhead, six floral chandeliers made from 1,500 strings of glass beads and more than 10,000 pink dendrobium orchids were suspended above the tables.

Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif./The Velvet Garden, Los Angeles

For the grand re-opening of a celebrity-owned Hollywood clothing boutique, the event designers created lavish centerpieces using fashion-inspired materials. Vintage handbags and high-heeled shoes filled with lush arrangements were scattered on tabletops throughout the store, while vintage wire dummy torsos topped with flat-screen monitors showing images of female heads sported chic floral fashions including tulip skirts, dahlia belt buckles and blossom buttons.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION

Axis Project Management, Newport Beach, Calif.

After the company originally hired to perform the job went out of business, Axis oversaw the installation of a semi-permanent clear-span tent on the third floor deck of a downtown San Francisco building. After resolving initial concerns about the deck's ability to support the installation, Axis used a 175-ton crane to erect a 70-by-100-foot Acadaspan tent that had to clear an existing 20-foot-tall concrete structure on the deck.

BEST TENT INSTALLATION

Celebration Rentals, Pipersville, Pa.

Following a fire at a local supermarket, Celebration Rentals installed a 10,000-square-foot clear-span tent that served as the venue for a fund-raising event to raise money for the store's rebuilding project. At the last minute, the installation required the addition of more tenting to accommodate the crowd that turned out to give $250,000 to the cause. The tent, which also served as a temporary market during the rebuilding process, housed all of the equipment found in a normal supermarket.

De Boer Vinings, Atlanta

At the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, De Boer Vinings installed a media pavilion with workspace for more than 1,800 journalists in a parking lot adjoining the Fleet Center. The 150-by-330-foot Delta structure had a 20-foot sidewall and was fitted with a custom-designed mezzanine system that created a second floor. When finished, the structure featured six exterior and four interior staircases, an ADA-approved lift and approximately 100,000 square feet of carpeted and air-conditioned space.

Ducky-Bob's Party & Tent Rentals, Carrollton, Texas

For a holiday party weekend with a “Motown” theme, Ducky-Bob's installed more than 31,000 square feet of tenting, including six frame tents measuring 20 feet by 30 feet to 30 feet by 70 feet; three marquee tents, including one measuring 10 feet by 65 feet; and three structure tents, the largest of which measured 98 feet by 132 feet. Some 28,000 square feet of flooring was laser-leveled from ground level to 13 feet high for the project.

BEST USE OF LIGHTING

BC Event Management, Burnaby, British Columbia/Riggit Services, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Guests at a cosmetic company's banquet experienced a constantly changing “sky” above their heads thanks to the installation of Virtual Sky, an overhead projection surface that stretched from wall to wall across the ceiling of the 20,000-square-foot venue. The design team reinforced the roof to support 10 vertical levels of production equipment, including trussing to hold 165 projectors and instruments. Other challenges included revealing a hidden dance floor via a kabuki drop and coordinating a fireworks display synchronized to music above Vancouver harbor.

Brite Ideas, Foothill Ranch, Calif.

For a 2,500-guest event with a “World Beat” theme, Brite Ideas integrated kinetic intelligent lighting and video, projecting music scenes from around the world onto a custom-designed 20-foot-diameter globe made of heavy-gauge vinyl set on a 15-foot circular base of aluminum box trussing. Four image quadrants were blended together via electronic processing and video masking, creating a seamless 360-degree image projection on the globe that was a combination of lighting, video and decor.

BEST USE OF LIGHTING

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla./Hy-Lite Productions, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Over the course of an “Evening of Everglades Elegance” themed dinner, the lighting changed to simulate dusk, a moonlit night and dawn in the Florida Everglades. A 50-foot projection surface behind the main stage served as a focal point for the lighting effects, with more than 20 intelligent lighting fixtures, conventional lighting and gobo effects re-creating the cycle of daylight. Dining tables pin-spotted from above and lit from below added to the atmosphere of the “midnight journey.”

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Digital Lightning, Gaithersburg, Md.

In just three days, a private barn and horse-riding arena were converted into an elegant space for a fund-raising event for the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. In addition to covering the dirt floor with plywood and hiding the unattractive mesh ceiling with fabric, Digital Lightning installed 326 feet of truss, 183 lighting fixtures and 6,330 feet of power cable, and brought in three generators to supply power to the event.

BC Event Management, Burnaby, British Columbia/ Riggit Services, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Guests at a cosmetic company's banquet experienced a constantly changing “sky” above their heads thanks to the installation of Virtual Sky, an overhead projection surface that stretched from wall to wall across the ceiling of the 20,000-square-foot venue. The design team reinforced the roof to support 10 vertical levels of production equipment, including trussing to hold 165 projectors and instruments. Other challenges included revealing a hidden dance floor via a kabuki drop and coordinating a fireworks display synchronized to music above Vancouver harbor.

JHE Production Group, Concord, N.C.

Nearly 100 JHE employees were on-site for an elaborate stage show at the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. For the pre-race show, which was broadcast live on television, 24 NASCAR drivers were introduced to fans in a concert-style ceremony complete with pyrotechnics. A new center stage and side pieces, including moving elements such as robotic lighting, mechanical doors and shadow boxes, were designed and constructed specifically for this event and were dismantled in front of the crowd before the racing began.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LOGISTICS

ESPN Productions, Bristol, Conn.

This year's ESPN X Games, held in four southern California venues over a four-day period, featured more than 150 athletes competing in extreme-sports events including skateboarding and bike stunts. Readying the Home Depot Center for the motocross events required removing more than 130,000 square feet of sod and bringing in some 800 truckloads of dirt in just one week. To handle safety and equipment control issues, the full-time staff of 37 ballooned to 1,500 for the event dates.

Extraordinary Events, Orlando, Fla./George P. Johnson Co., Auburn Hills Mich.

For Samsung's sponsorship of the 2004 Olympic Games Torch Relay, a mobile marketing campaign followed the torch through Mexico City, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta, New York and Montreal over six consecutive days. In each city, 20 to 30 team members were in charge of towing a branded truck carrying a giant flip-phone replica ahead of the Olympic torch carrier; over the six-day period, a total of 800,000 Samsung-branded promotional items were handed out to spectators.

JHE Production Group, Concord, N.C.

Nearly 100 JHE employees were on-site for an elaborate stage show at the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. For the pre-race show, which was broadcast live on television, 24 NASCAR drivers and their teams were introduced to 150,000 fans in a concert-style ceremony complete with pyrotechnics. A new center stage and side pieces, including moving elements such as robotic lighting, mechanical doors and shadow boxes, were designed and constructed specifically for this event and were dismantled in front of the crowd before the racing began.

JHE Production Group, Concord, N.C.

More than 115,000 spectators, including plane-loving actor John Travolta, legendary pilot Chuck Yeager and U.S. President George W. Bush, attended the weeklong “First Flight Centennial Celebration” to honor the 100-year anniversary of the aviation achievements of Orville and Wilbur Wright. More than 4,600 hours of preparation, including Secret Service briefings, went into organizing events including daily air shows, on-site exhibits on aviation history and a final-day reenactment of the Wright brothers' historic 12-second flight.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT

ASI Production Services, Orlando, Fla.

For a three-day meeting for a large electricity utility, ASI worked with a two-hour turnover window between daily business meetings and nightly entertainment. A replica of an old mining tunnel was used as a pathway to business meetings during the day; after the final day's meeting, the tunnel was removed and a replica “House of Blues” porch, complete with 8-foot-tall swinging barn doors, was constructed as the entrance into a “Las Vegas” style showroom.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EVENT RENTAL SUPPORT

Marquee Tent Productions, Austin, Texas

For Maxim Magazine's “Circus Maximus” Super Bowl pre-game party, Marquee Tent Productions installed 18,000 square feet of Bil-Jax flooring under a circus tent. In order to combat the rainy weather, the field where the tent was to be installed first had to be drained of water, then temporary walkways were built to transport equipment from the road. Following a last-minute drop in temperature, the team also enclosed a large outdoor patio with a clear tent wall and filled the space with heaters.

Austin Party Central, Austin, Texas

The 100th anniversary celebration of the Mason National Bank in Mason, Texas, held in the street in front of the building, was attended by more than 1,500 guests. With five hours of load-in time, Austin Party Central set up more than 100 tables and 750 chairs and installed tents, lighting and a stage, all in 95 degree Fahrenheit weather. An encore performance by the band meant that event strike was delayed for two hours, but the team still met the required street reopening deadline.

BEST NEW, INNOVATIVE EVENT PRODUCT/TECHNOLOGY

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.

An awards dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, was the debut of Human Decor interactive elements from Designs by Sean. Two human vases — models wearing elaborate floral headpieces standing in fabric vase replicas — greeted guests as they entered the ballroom. Outside, human lamps — created from live models wearing floor-length column dresses and lighted fabric lampshades on their heads — lit the pathway that led guests to a fireworks show.

AVS Entertainment, Plantation, Fla.

Introduced at The Special Event 2004, Aqua Screens are made up of four 8-inch-wide LCD screens that are sealed in waterproof cases and suspended in an 8-foot-tall by 2 1/2-foot-wide, water-filled plastic tube. The futuristic screens, which can be programmed to broadcast identical or unique images or messages, appear to float among the bubbles and light emitted from the base of the tube, creating a visually appealing display.

Transformit Inc., Gorham, Maine

The Dynamics system, a collection of rectilinear tension fabric structures, was introduced at the 2004 Exhibitor Show in Las Vegas. The six components of the system include a frame that can support up to three layers of fabric, allowing designers to create unique colors and textures through layering. Unique effects can also be created through the application of front-lighting, backlighting or using LED color changers between the layers of fabric.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET UNDER $25,000

Extraordinary Events, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

With three weeks of lead time, the “Art of Entertainment” event was produced in Rome for a client looking for an Italian-influenced musical performance — but not opera. Extraordinary Events designed a humorous show in which Broadway-caliber singers, costumed as five famous Italian works of art including the “Mona Lisa” and statue of Venus de Milo, came to life and performed a medley of contemporary tunes.

Harith Productions Ltd., Oreland, Pa./Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla.

Entertainment for the three-day “Evening of Everglades Elegance” incentive program for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. Guests enjoyed a butterfly release before eating dinner in a ballroom transformed into a lush jungle environment. A dance production by butterfly-costumed dancers and the retelling of a Seminole legend were performed in front of a scenic backdrop that changed from sunrise to sunset throughout the event.

USA Hosts, New Orleans

“A Ya/Ya Night in the Big Easy” was the theme of the opening reception event produced for a medical conference. Inspired by the client's wish to show the 3,000 attendees a different side of New Orleans, USA Hosts designed entertainment using dancers, chefs, artists and musicians from youth and community outreach groups. Guests watched trainee chefs make pralines, listened to jazz performances by students and graduates of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and bid on chairs painted by young artists during the event.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET $25,000 to $100,000

Galaxy Productions, Sunrise, Fla.

The guest of honor's passion for gambling was the inspiration for the entertainment at a casino-themed 70th birthday party at a private estate. Guests were greeted by Vegas-style acts including showgirls, live lions and tigers, and models wearing animal-print body paint; outside, three bands kept guests dancing over the course of the evening before a grand finale performance by a 17-member group that included dancers, acrobats and aerial drummers.

EventWorks, Los Angeles

The final-night entertainment for the Travel Association of America's International Pow Wow 2004 showcased the talent and cultural diversity of host city Los Angeles. More than 3,000 guests enjoyed performances by String Theory, an ensemble that combines music and sculptural string-instrument installations; rocked out to El Vez, the “Latin Elvis”; and saw two concerts by 60-member hip-hop orchestra Dakah in the new Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET $25,000 to $100,000

TLC Creative Special Effects, Los Angeles

TLC staged two dramatic entertainment events to introduce client Sikorsky's new helicopter model at the Heli-Expo 2004 in Las Vegas. On the trade show floor, a disappearing balloon wall and intelligent lighting were used to unveil the helicopter to attendees; at a party two nights later, TLC used special effects — including moving video projection, 3-D animation, scent machines and fans — to simulate the helicopter landing behind a screen onstage at the Hard Rock Cafe.

BEST EVENT ENTERTAINMENT CONCEPT AND EXECUTION: BUDGET ABOVE $100,000

National Hockey League, New York

The closing-night party of the 2004 National Hockey League All-Star weekend in St. Paul, Minn., was an outdoor festival held in the Ice Palace — a 70-foot-tall, 200-foot-wide structure built entirely of blocks of ice, the construction of which was partially financed by the NHL. More than 3,000 VIP guests spent the night sipping hot drinks and relaxing in hospitality tents before watching a light show and a performance by Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies.

Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany

At an employee conference for software giant SAP, Vok Dams Gruppe designed educational entertainment around competitive events that demonstrated the importance of teamwork and reinforced customer service goals to 2,500 employees. The sports theme was enhanced with performances by marching bands and cheerleaders, as well as a live studio broadcast of interviews with attendees. A counter kept track of “Clientscore” points that guests received for each activity participated in; when the goal was reached, they “earned” a gala dinner.

Steve Kemble Event Design, Dallas/Imagination Entertainment, San Diego

For the 50th anniversary celebration of Chicago-based General Growth Partners, the production team produced a two-part tribute that honored the company's roots and five decades in business. During the morning meeting, a cast of Broadway-credited dancers performed the song “All That Jazz” from the show “Chicago,” followed by GGP's CEO's humorous adaptation of another tune from the musical. In the evening, a series of theatrical vignettes spanning 50 years of music and dance styles livened up an awards ceremony.

MOST OUTSTANDING SPECTACLE

Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte, N.C.

The three-day “Charlotte Shout Culinary Arts Experience,” which attracted more than 50,000 food-loving visitors, was the culmination of a month-long series of art, cultural and entertainment programs in Charlotte, N.C. Attendees watched high-energy cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs including the Food Network's Sara Moulton and Alton Brown, sampled dishes at the “Tasting Village” restaurant showcase, and cheered on competitors in barbecue and beer brewing competitions.

JAM Productions, Chicago

The grand opening gala of Chicago's Millennium Park showcased the new venue to more than 2,500 guests, including major donors. Highlights included dinner from Wolfgang Puck Catering — overseen by Puck himself — and a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the new Frank Gehry-designed music pavilion, which included a grand finale fireworks and lighting display that was launched from the roofs of eight skyscrapers and synchronized to the music. The evening's events raised more than $2 million for the park's conservancy.

JHE Production Group, Concord, N.C.

Nearly 100 JHE employees were on-site for an elaborate stage show at the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. For the pre-race show, which was broadcast live on television, 24 NASCAR drivers and their teams were introduced to 150,000 fans in a concert-style ceremony complete with pyrotechnics and flyovers by F-18 fighter jets. Drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. made appearances, singer Edwin McCain performed the national anthem and rocker Lenny Kravitz uttered the famous phrase “Gentlemen, start your engines” to begin the racing.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST

Carolyn Dempsey Design, Port Chester, N.Y.

An upscale beach look was the design inspiration for a 250-guest bar mitzvah celebration held at the family's home. Custom-built dining tables were constructed with a cutout 4-inch-deep trough filled with water, shells and floating candles, then surrounded by sand, grass and frosted sea glass to re-create the New England coastline. Whimsical centerpieces at the children's tables were made of four glass vases filled with blue-tinted water and colorful hand-blown glass fish.

Timot McGonagle, Nashville, Tenn.

The Nashville (Tenn.) Parthenon was the setting of a bar mitzvah celebration that featured distinct areas for children and adults. Adults ate a four-course dinner at tables set with gold linen and gold-rimmed chargers in the venue's candle-filled main chamber, which features a 42-foot-tall gilded statue of Athena. On the Parthenon's portico, “cafe” and “club” themed tents were set up as venues for the 100 children in attendance to eat and dance.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET UNDER $500 PER GUEST

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

A room at Las Vegas' Spago restaurant was converted into a “retirement home” for a humorous 65th birthday celebration for 15 friends. Waiters dressed in medical attendant coats offered guests the use of a walker as they arrived, then led them to a table set with “hospital green” linen, bedpans filled with floral arrangements, and chairs topped with foam doughnut cushions. Guests sipped blue “Viagra” cocktails from medical beakers and ate slices of retirement home-shaped birthday cake.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL: BUDGET $500 AND ABOVE PER GUEST

Creative Consulting Specialists, Northbrook, Ill.

Creative Consulting Specialists re-created sites in England, Las Vegas and New York for a “Magical Mystery Tour” event at the client's estate in Lake Geneva, Wis. The 750 guests knocked back pints of ale in the “Liverpool Pub” before watching a performance by a Beatles tribute band in the “Ed Sullivan Theater.” A performance by the host, who was dressed as Austin Powers, led guests into the “Las Vegas” area, which included replicas of such hot spots as Caesars Palace and Ghostbar nightclub.

EKS Events, Aspen, Colo.

For a software entrepreneur's weekend-long birthday celebration in Aspen, Colo., EKS produced a series of events with the theme “Full Release: A Colorado Adventure.” Activities for the 240 guests included an elegant dinner in a ski cabin; a daytime Eco Challenge in which participants competed in activities such as rock-climbing, kayaking and paintball fights; and a black-tie cocktail and hors d'oeuvre reception — reached via gondolas — on top of Aspen Mountain.

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

The highlight of an intimate 40th birthday celebration in Las Vegas for 20 guests was a 10-course dinner at the Bellagio's five-star Picasso Restaurant, which was bought out for the evening. MGM Mirage Events created a six-foot-tall “S” — the initial of the guest of honor's first name — from thousands of blossoms and mounted it on a gate, creating a dramatic entryway to the dining area; following dinner, a retro lounge area was revealed for a performance by an Elvis impersonator.

BEST EVENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Index Event Agency, Bangkok, Thailand

For client Red Bull Beverage Co., Index Event Agency designed a marketing campaign to create excitement for the company's recently repackaged beverage and raise brand awareness in Thailand's saturated energy-drink market. Twenty-seven heavily promoted high-energy shows featuring a German acrobat troupe were performed throughout Thailand, exposing more than 250,000 attendees to the re-launched product and resulting in a 20 percent increase in sales during the campaign.

Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany

To celebrate Whirlpool Europe's 15th anniversary, Vok Dams Gruppe created a series of events for 2,000 trade partners, dealers and journalists in Nice and Cannes, France, over 10 consecutive days. The dealer event, which included four groups of 400 from Europe and South Africa, featured the inter-active “Experience Immersion Zone” — a rotating auditorium that moved the audience to different stages around the room for live performances that reinforced the Whirlpool brand.

Wiersma Experience Marketing, Englewood, Colo.

Wiersma Experience Marketing created a grassroots marketing campaign for client the Bobby Jones Film Foundation to promote the independent film “Bobby Jones — Stroke of Genius.” Over a period of three months, the company created collateral materials for and orchestrated more than 70 events — including fund-raising functions by charity partners and four movie premieres in the United States and Scotland — which garnered media exposure for the movie and raised nearly $1 million for various charities.

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

E=MC2 Event Management, Calgary, Alberta

For Calgary Cares 2004, an AIDS fund-raising gala, E=MC2 produced an entertaining and educational stage show based on the theme “Seasons,” which was designed to parallel the emotional stages that AIDS victims experience. More than 175 volunteers — including 100 amateur dancers and models and 75 behind-the-scenes stage managers and makeup artists — committed five months of their time to perfecting the edgy performance, which raised $170,000 (Canadian) for the charity.

Jerry Barnett Productions, Denver

Jerry Barnett Productions featured a variety of entertainment keyed on the event's “Lady with the Red Dress On” theme for Denver's 2004 I-Con Awards. A band accompanied by red-costumed dancers performed songs involving the color red on a 10-foot-high stage that looked out over the room. A performance by aerialists, a stilt-walker in a long red dress, and a shower of red confetti closed out the evening of red-hot entertainment.

BEST THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

Los Angeles Party Designs, Los Angeles

For a meetings company incentive event, Los Angeles Party Designs brought the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based Pageant of the Masters tableaux vivants show off-site for the first time in the pageant's history. The four-act narrated performance featured live models re-creating famous works of art, including two “Saturday Evening Post” covers by Norman Rockwell and a classic Currier and Ives illustration.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET UNDER $20,000

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

A room at Las Vegas' Spago restaurant was converted into a “retirement home” for a humorous 65th birthday celebration for 15 friends. Waiters dressed in medical attendant coats offered guests the use of a walker as they arrived, then led them to a table set with “hospital green” linen, bedpans filled with floral arrangements, and chairs topped with foam doughnut cushions. Guests sipped blue “Viagra” cocktails from medical beakers, sampled hors d'oeuvre served on a gurney and ate slices of retirement home-shaped birthday cake.

Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif.

Someone's in the Kitchen gave an updated edge to an elegant 30-guest baby shower, warming up the baby pink palette with rich chocolate brown accents. Blossoms placed in miniature metal baby carriages dressed tables set with pink linen and warm brown glassware; a musician in a brown leather chair served as both entertainment and decor. Live cherry blossom trees lining the walls and a 10-foot “tree of life” covered in pink silk butterflies and glass beads completed the look.

Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif.

The bar mitzvah boy's love of swimming and science inspired the subtle color palette at a 150-guest outdoor celebration. Centerpieces of blue rubber pool balls frozen in ice orbs on a base of ice were surrounded by grass on green linen tablecloths; overhead, large white and blue balloons trapped in the canopy above the tables gave the appearance of giant dewdrops condensing on a surface. Cobalt blue glasses and plates reinforced the design scheme.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET $20,000 to $50,000

An Original Occasion, Los Angeles

“The Elements” was the theme for the opening night party of a sales conference for brokerage firm Charles Schwab that put the 500 attendees in a New Age state of mind. The venue was split into four areas — Earth Cafe, Cloud Nine, The Watering Hole and Devil's Den — that corresponded to astrological earth, air, water and fire signs. Each room contained unique decor and entertainment including interactive buffets and lighting, with all four areas anchored by a custom-built 16-foot-square bar.

Kehoe Designs, Chicago

For “baba:luna,” Chicago's 16th annual Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS Gala, the Spanish-style Aragon Ballroom set the stage for a Latin-fusion themed event. A vibrant crimson, aquamarine and white color scheme gave the venue a “South Beach” nightclub vibe, enhanced by Lucite pillar lamps and elaborate 30-foot-tall chiffon chandeliers lit by constantly changing colors that evoked the vivid tropical hues of a Caribbean beach at sunset.

Designs by Sean, Dania, Fla./Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa.

The final-night “Evening of Everglades Elegance” event for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. A hotel ballroom was transformed into a lush jungle environment, complete with dancers dressed as butterflies and frogs, and lighting that changed to simulate dusk, a moonlit night and dawn in the Everglades. Banquet tables covered with custom-designed snakeskin-print linen were topped with centerpieces made from native plant species such as cymbidium orchids, Seminole grass and Spanish moss.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $50,000

An Original Occasion, Los Angeles/Star Trax, Southfield, Mich.

Guests took a “Walk on the Wild Side” at a jungle-themed company holiday party for 1,500 held in mid-winter in Michigan. Decor elements including more than 30 14-foot-tall studio palm trees, life-sized elephant and zebra statues, and a 40-foot water scrim were shipped from Los Angeles to create areas including The Bird Cage, Leopard Lounge, Monkey Village and The Watering Hole. Animal-print seating surfaces and an exotic petting zoo completed the tropical jungle atmosphere.

Creative Consulting Specialists, Northbrook, Ill.

Creative Consulting Specialists re-created sites in England, Las Vegas and New York for a “Magical Mystery Tour” event at the client's estate in Lake Geneva, Wis. The 750 guests knocked back pints of ale in the “Liverpool Pub” before watching a performance by a Beatles tribute band in the “Ed Sullivan Theater.” The “Las Vegas” area, which included replicas of such hot spots as Ghostbar nightclub and the exteriors of Caesars Palace, Bellagio and Paris hotels, let guests feel as though they were cruising the Strip.

BEST THEME DECOR: TOTAL DECOR BUDGET ABOVE $50,000

MGM Mirage Events, Las Vegas

“In Perfect Harmony” was the musical theme of the 1,500-guest MGM Mirage Corp.'s 2003 Employee of the Year gala held at the Bellagio resort. Plexiglas columns and lanterns illuminated with blue light glowed in the “Rhapsody in Blue” cocktail lounge. In the ballroom, musical notes adorned oversized lampshade chandeliers that hung above long, rectangular tables set with black tablecloths and white chair covers. The tables sat in front of a stage framed by a 60-foot-long piano-keyboard proscenium arch.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET UNDER $100,000

Eclectic Events International, Toronto

To celebrate Italian confectionary company Ferrero's 30th anniversary in Canada, the company's journey from Italy to Canada was re-created with three events in one day. Guests attended a breakfast meeting at a replica of an Italian cafe and piazza, then boarded a boat for a cruise that represented the company's voyage across the Atlantic. When the boat landed, actors dressed as Canadian Mounties stamped guest “passports” before the group watched a performance by a First Nations dance troupe.

Harith Productions, Oreland, Pa./Ritz-Carlton, Naples, Naples, Fla.

The “Evening of Everglades Elegance” event for VIASYS Healthcare was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades. A hotel ballroom was transformed into a lush jungle environment, complete with dancers dressed as butterflies and frogs, and lighting that changed to simulate dusk, a moonlit night and dawn in the Everglades. Guests were served a tightly scripted and choreographed five-course menu of local ingredients that featured banquet staff as part of the event entertainment.

Festivex Special Events, Gatineau, Quebec

Festivex Special Events entertained a group of preferred clients of Starwood Hotels & Resorts with an “Iron Chef” themed competition that pitted three chefs from various Starwood properties against one another in a re-creation of the popular Japanese television show. Guests cheered on their favorites as the chefs created dishes from lobster, the secret ingredient revealed by a Starwood executive dressed as the show's host, the Chairman. A judging panel made up of guests sampled the chefs' creations before naming the Iron Chef.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $100,000 TO $249,000

Merestone, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The National Bank of Arizona celebrated its 20th anniversary and the grand opening of new corporate headquarters with an event attended by employees from across Arizona. During the opening session, employees watched a video in which the bank's CEO appeared to parachute off a mountain before “landing” onstage in front of the audience. Tours of the new facility and the presentation of a sandstone sculpture of the bank's new corporate logo rounded out the activities.

Someone's in the Kitchen, Tarzana, Calif.

“Fashion is fun” was the inspiration for the re-opening of a celebrity-owned Hollywood clothing boutique. Someone's in the Kitchen designed a new store window for the event, filling the space with models wearing the boutique's fashions. Male models posing as “Fashion Police” roamed through the crowd handing out citations; vintage handbags filled with lush flower arrangements and an ice martini bar with high-heeled boots as luges helped guests find their inner fashionista.

Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany

At a employee conference for software giant SAP, Vok Dams Gruppe designed educational entertainment around competitive events that demonstrated the importance of teamwork and reinforced customer service goals to 2,500 employees. The sports theme was enhanced with performances by marching bands and cheerleaders, as well as a live studio broadcast of interviews with attendees. A counter kept track of “Clientscore” points that guests received for each activity participated in; when the goal was reached, they “earned” a gala dinner.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $250,000 TO $500,000

Cantrav West Services Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia

An ice rink was transformed into an “ice palace” setting for an elaborate event for client Citigroup's Global Chairman's Council. Some 350 guests were served a five-course dinner in which each course was timed to coordinate with the ice-skating performances and cirque-style entertainment. Extensive lighting, including snowflake gobos and pin-spotted tables, and cool decor elements, such as ice-globe centerpieces embedded with flowers, converted the venue into a frozen grotto.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET $250,000 TO $500,000

Destinations By Marriott, Orlando, Fla.

“Club Kaleidoscope” was the theme for an event designed to show off the host hotel's capabilities to an association of 550 insurance conference planners. The colorful event featured vibrant entertainment such as a strolling calypso band and a family-style dinner of Latin-influenced dishes. A DJ spinning tunes in the ballroom-turned-South-Beach-nightclub, which was decorated with vibrant 16-foot-tall murals and swirling neon lighting and gobo projections, kept guests moving.

USA Hosts, New Orleans

Held at New Orleans' Contemporary Arts Center, “Art in Motion” showcased artistic food, drinks and entertainment to more than 900 guests during a major medical convention. Following a meeting, guests moved through art “vignettes” that contained interactive exhibits — such as artists creating paintings on-site — and stylish food stations. The “Saketini Lounge” served as a serene Asian-themed area where guests could sample sushi, Asian noodle salad and sake-infused drinks, and watch Tai Chi performances.

BEST EVENT PRODUCED FOR A CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION: OVERALL BUDGET ABOVE $500,000

Extraordinary Events, Orlando, Fla.

Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum was the venue for the Hot Wheels Hall of Fame Awards, which celebrated 35 years of Mattel's Hot Wheels toy cars. VIPs arrived in classic cars and stepped onto a custom “Hot Wheels orange” carpet before entering the museum through a 14-foot-high loop of orange racetrack. Inside, car enthusiast and comedian Jay Leno emceed the ceremony from a stage that featured a giant stylized car dashboard, including a video-projected speedometer that revved as award winners approached the podium.

The Event Co., Munich, Germany

The Event Co. unveiled the new BMW 1 Series with an outdoor event that allowed 500 key account customers to see the vehicles perform in real-life situations. Guests assembled at a BMW-branded hangar at Munich Airport, where they heard a surprise announcement that they needed to check in for a flight. Helicopters transported guests to the vehicle presentation site, where they were shown a synchronized driving display by a fleet of 16 of the new cars before retuning to the terminal for dinner.

Vok Dams Gruppe, Wuppertal, Germany

To celebrate Whirlpool Europe's 15th anniversary, Vok Dams Gruppe created a series of events for 2,000 trade partners, dealers and journalists in Nice and Cannes, France, over 10 consecutive days. The dealer event, which included four groups of 400 from Europe and South Africa, featured the interactive “Experience Immersion Zone” — a rotating auditorium that moved the audience to different stages around the room for live performances that reinforced the Whirlpool brand.

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